This last week I went on a quest through the Bible spurred on by the question: Is Fear a Sin? Here’s what I found.
There are lots of Godly people in the Bible who at one time or another were afraid.
The priest Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, was afraid when an angel shows up to tell him about John. (Luk 1:12)
Daniel was afraid when he is shown in dreams and visions what is to come. (Dan 4:5)
When Saul is transformed and comes to Jerusalem, the disciples in Jerusalem are afraid of him. (Acts 9:26)
Jesus’s disciples are afraid a lot, like when they think Jesus is a ghost walking to them on the water (Mat 14:25-31). And on the mount of transfiguration when God says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” The disciples are afraid. In fact it says, “they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.” (Mat 17:5-7)
The women who found Jesus’s tomb empty were afraid and not just of the angel. (Mat 28:8)
Paul was afraid. (1Co 2:3) (2Co 11:3)
David was afraid. (Psa 31:13)(Psa 64:1)
Gideon was afraid. (Jdg 6:22-24)(Jdg 6:27)(Jdg 7:10)
God through Jeremiah points out the fear of the captain of the forces and all the people from the greatest to the least. (Jer 42:11)
And a lot of places in the Bible (usually the same place where there is a reason for someone to fear) there are the words/command: “Do not fear.” (This exact phrase is used 69x in the Bible) (The interesting thing to note about this exact phrase is that it is usually spoken in connection to a specific situation.)
There are also a lot of places where the Bible talks about the Fear of the Lord, (This exact phrase “the fear of the Lord” is used 27x in the Bible) and regardless of where and when this type of fear is talked about, it is a good type of fear. (Exo 23:27)(1Sa 11:7)(2Ch 14:14)(Pro 8:13)(Pro 14:27)(Pro 22:4)(Isa 33:6)(Act 9:31)
Pro 14:26 “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.”
What I’ve also discovered is that there is only one place I could find in the Bible where fear, in and of itself, is directly addressed as something leading to death (in other words a type of sin). This is in Rev 21:8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (The word “cowardly” here is translated as “fearful” two other places (both from the exact same story) the time where Jesus calms the storm and says to His disciples.“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mar 4:40
(This word “fearful/cowardly” has the concept of being faithless, as in lacking faith altogether)
Which of course, if we lack faith in God altogether as in have zero faith in God, that would explain why it would lead to death and not life in Christ. (Act 26:18)(Rom 5:1) (Rom 3:22-26)(Gal 2:16)(Gal 3:22)
There are also specific commands in the Bible in regard to fearing certain things.
2Ki 17:35-36 “…You shall not fear other gods…”
Isa 51:7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law: do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults.”
Mat 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
There are also a lot of verses clearly meant as encouragement to a person who is afraid.
Jhn 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Deu 3:22 “You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.”
Deu 31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Psa 118:6 “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Psa 115:11 “You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.”
Rom 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
2Ti 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
And there are verses that express a Godly response to fear.
Psa 56:3 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
1Sa 12:24 “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
Deu 13:4 “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”